SINGAPORE - He knew it would take time for his wife to recover from her trauma.
But warehouse executive Eric (not his real name), 34, did not expect his marriage to be in shambles. Within a week of moving into their three-room Circuit Road flat last November, his wife, a 28-year-old China national, was attacked by a cross-dresser who tried to strangle her with a rope, outside her flat.
We are not naming the husband because of a gag order by the court on identifying his wife.
Her attacker, IT support officer Lu Choon Sien, 33, was sentenced to eight months' jail on Thursday for the attack on Nov 7 last year. But for Mr Eric, a bigger problem lies ahead - his family of three is barely holding together in the aftermath of the incident.
"I am a victim of this too," Mr Eric told the New Paper yesterday, as he described how his family of three started falling apart in the past 10 months.
For the first few months after the attack, the couple had sleepless nights.
Mr Eric's wife would wake up at the slightest noise, thinking it was Lu coming after her.
"She would ask me if I had heard anything, and worried about whether the attacker would look for her," he said.
On nights when she did fall asleep, she relived the strangling incident in her dreams. To allay his wife's fears, Mr Eric would wait for her at the void deck whenever she returned home late from her job as a pub waitress.
Even then, the nightmares continued.
"She would ask me about (Lu), and whether he was still in remand. I could see the fear in her eyes," Mr Eric said.
After eight months of fear and paranoia, the family decided to move to a condominium in Geylang, where they rented a four-room unit. It has been "a bit of a struggle" trying to keep up with the $1,200 rent monthly, said Mr Eric. But they felt safer.
"We moved to a condo because there is a security guard there. No one can attack her there," he explained. He also took a $150 pay cut and quit his logistics specialist job to be a warehouse executive, as it allowed him to pick up his daughter after school.
"At our old place, she could take the school bus. Now I have to wake up earlier to send my daughter to school on the bus," he said.
Mr Eric had hoped these sacrifices would help ease his wife's recovery. But the woman he spent six years with became a complete stranger instead. "She feels that death could occur any time, so she wants to live her life to the fullest right now and not hold back," he said. This meant that she no longer kept her temper in check.
"She grew aggressive and became easily agitated. I tried to give in, but it has become too much to take. I don't know how long more I can stand this," he said. Thinking she needed help, Mr Eric suggested she see a psychiatrist.
She flew into a rage, and he never broached the subject again.
"I already knew about her short temper before marrying her. But things were always negotiable. We would always talk things out," he said. Now, they barely exchange a word. When they do talk, their conversations end up in screams and shoves.
Recalling a recent argument, Mr Eric said his wife even bit his finger in anger. He sought treatment at the hospital for his fractured finger, which took a month to heal.